HOW LIKE A POTATO
by Keith Wilson
How potato of you,
noticing with your many eyes
the hunched and gloveless scraping of frost
from the windshield of my car. Omniscient
of you. Or perceived from your closet
window. Maybe the crack of your door.
And then to bring me a pair
of your own—worn, leather and for the garden.
How warm and hearty,
how rich and filled with starch.
Or Summer in your lawn chair.
My arms filled with groceries
or school books, how you tilt yourself
so your skin appears the most rough and brown,
bruised from the heavy handling
since before you were pulled from the unforgiving earth
by Jesus—who must, from the sounds of it,
live in the apartment
on the other side of you.
How you vegetate so,
arms like vines lifting to light
despite the dark knots
in your stomach, how you manage
to forget the heavy smell
of warm coffee soil,
down here where I live.
How like a potato,
to sit away from the birds, smiling,
all ready to fry.
(“How Like a Potato” was originally published in Poetry Bay and is reprinted here today with permission from the poet.)
Keith Wilson Keith S. Wilson is an Affrilachian poet and Cave Canem Fellow currently living in Kentucky. A graduate of Northern Kentucky University, Keith’s work has appeared in Appalachian Heritage, Mobius, Evergreen Review, The Driftwood Review, Breadcrumb Scabs, Kudzu, and in the anthology Spaces Between Us. Keith is an editor for the multilingual online journal Public-Republic and co-editor for the culture blog We Who Are About To Die.
Editor’s Note: How clever of Mr. Wilson to compare a person to a potato in such a skillful manner. To create layers of meaning – the potato-like characteristics of a person with their many eyes watching and their tendency to act as if they are “rich and filled with starch” – spread on top of deeper, more meaningful discussions that relate to religion and socioeconomic divides. In addition to his clever wordsmithing and ability to relay deeper meaning, Mr. Wilson’s poetry appealed to me first and foremost for his deft ability to manipulate language and create beautiful verse with moments like “how you tilt yourself / so your skin appears the most rough and brown, / bruised from the heavy handling / since before you were pulled from the unforgiving earth.” Given the layers of this poem, I suggest giving it a second and even a third read in order to fully extrapolate meaning as if pulling roots from the soil.
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